Tank Engine wrote:...
Faith has been the guardian of freedom (many priests opposed the regime in El Salvador, those centred around the weekly paper Tygodnik Powszechny in Poland during communism), although in many cases this was when the freedom of religious institutions was under threat. Religious institutions have also supressed creativity and freedom when they have been in power (Gallileo was persecuted for his view of the universe, inquisitions, it's clear from the architecture and art of the middle ages that the church had huge power and wealth, those centred around Nasz Dziennik [Our Daily] fight for the temporal and political power of the church in Poland today and members of the church in Ireland have certainly abused their power in recent history). The way I see it, freedom to have (or not have) one's own faith is the guardian of individual freedom and creativity.
What do you mean by atheists' dishonesty in this context? There have been many religious people who have gone to war, carried out atrocities based on religious belief (the crusades, the Catholics war with the Cathars, Calvinists in Geneva), just as there have been many non-religious or secular people who have carried out atrocities in the name of some ideal (Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, North Korea, right wing regimes in Central and South America - some supported by the religious hierarchy). See also Ramjambunath's comments. Both religious and secular people have lived laudable lives.
There are concrete atheists taking part in this debate, who certainly do not believe what you ascribe to us. It would be honest of you to address what we actually say, rather than seemingly attributing a set of beliefs to us as a whole. Just like Christendom, we do not form a monolithic block.
The interesting thing about religious oppression and persecution and political oppression and persecution, is that they are the flip side of the same coin.
In the cases of the political despots you mentioned, they found justification for their cause through, like religion, the sanctification of power and they frequently built an identity around such power, through the same type of iconic imagery that religion has historically used to create a basis for the sacred nature of a persona, or office itself. One thinks of the embalmed body of Lenin, or the gigantography of Mao. Well we could just as easily be dealing with the cadaver or image of an orthodox saint.
or martyr of the faith.
In the case of Bishop Romero, of El Salvador, however, he was also killed because he preached things that were sympathetic of Marxist collectivism. He may have thus been "discharged" by the very religion he professed, as a result of the Cold War politics.
In any case A-theism, simply means not having belief in a god or faith. It doesn't mean one who, except in a few rare noted cases, wishes to make a "crusade" (and I use this term specifically) against the religious to suppress others' belief or faith. While it's true of late, but only within the confines of democracy of the secularized West, some intellectuals have attempted to debunk religion and faith, but to say that these represent a modern form of tyranny or that religion is liberty is an absurdity that is also an insult to the millions who have died, either because they challenged the religious establishments, or because they were considered no more savage heathens who needed to be either butchered or converted to the Truth (and thus religion provided a "moral" justification for such barbary). Atheism also doesn't necessarily mean holding an absolute certainty that no higher power exists or was the cause of the universe and existence, but that no certainty can be known, as the religious claim does, in the this regard.
History, unfortunately, has provided ample cases and over a sustained period of time, for which religion and faith were not a means toward individual liberty or liberation, but exactly the opposite, as instruments of repression conformity. On thinks of the Peasant Revolt of 1525, for which Luther wrote a damning sentence to the princes of his region stating that "there is nothing worse than a rebelious peasant, kill them all," knowing that without the support of the nobles, his religious movement was going nowhere. Or the well known instance of Galileo's trial by the Catholic Inquisition and many, many others. Whereas the very notion of faith means to give up some of one's individual liberty by suspending reason, to be able to embrace a belief, which a rationalist argues simply can't be arrived at by what are the rather limited human faculties in comprehension.
They say, thus, that faith is a gift (from whom, though, I wouldn't know), in allowing those that have it to suppress their own reason and accept as undeniable and absolute Truth, what reasonably is unknowable. This has always led the religious institutions to couch themselves within the rapture of a visionary and mystical culture, as well as to invent a system of theological dogmas, which have frequently been transformed by the religious authorities into reasons to condemn and obliterate all those whom they regard as either heretics or infidels
. Throughout history, consequently, such religious authorities were to be regarded with great fear and respect, to be questioned only at great peril of ones life through inquisitions, exactly like the tyrannical political regimes.